As the River rises, new officials take the reigns

Brandie Richardson @B_lifestyles

      Ascension Parish council held its first meeting of the year on Jan. 7, making it the first council meeting Kenny Matassa attended as Parish President.

     Director of Ascension Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Richard Webre attended the meeting to discuss the rising river levels. Webre said that the levels are rising due to warmer than normal temperatures in the mid-west, which is causing rain to come down the Mississippi river rather than snow. The act comes five months earlier than normal in Louisiana.

      “The flooding that we are going to experience here in Ascension Parish is going to be contained within the batchers of the levee,” Webre said. “It normally doesn’t impact buildings, roadways, it doesn’t impact homes. That’s an advantage that we have as opposed to some other parishes that declared emergencies elsewhere in Louisiana. The levees work as designed; the flooding is maintained behind the batchers.”

     The council re-named Randy Clouatre as the Council Chairman and Todd Lambert as the new Vice Chairman, replacing Councilman Benny Johnson. A resolution was passed authorizing President Matassa to sign and execute all contracts, agreements and legal documents for the Parish.

     The council approved a request by Grant Officer Martha Collins to apply for a $100,000 grant from the Louisiana Government Assistance Program.

     The lowest responsive bid recommendation from the purchasing department for the La. 42/ La. 73 area sewage modifications was approved. The $1,258,975 bid was given by Grady Crawford Construction Co.

     A recommendation by the Zoning Commission was accepted by the council to amend the Ascension Parish zoning map from traditional neighborhood development to medium intensity residential on lot two located on the north side of La. 22, approximately 6,000 feet west of La. 44, and from traditional neighborhood development to mixed-use corridor on the south side of La. 22, approximately 6,000 feet west of La. 44.

     In a discussion regarding a resolution to hire a consultant to study traffic conditions in the Parish, Ascension Parish resident Jeff Pettit asked the council to pursue an opinion from the Attorney General’s Office clarifying if the Planning Commission has the authority to deny projects.

     “We are playing catch up now and I don’t see, and I’m sure y’all don’t see, and a lot of our citizens don’t see that we will ever catch up if we don’t start to address these issues now in a very direct manner,” Pettit said.

     The resolution was sent to committee for further discussion.

     An ordinance was passed to amend the Ascension Parish Code of Ordinances regarding Chapter 13 of Occupational Licenses, Taxes and Regulations for article I in general section 13-7 of Film Permits.

     The next meeting of the Ascension Parish Council will be Jan. 21.